New Issue: Polymer banknote featuring Jane Austen launches in U.K.

A new £10 banknote featuring renowned British author Jane Austen has entered circulation across the United Kingdom.

Issued by the Bank of England on Sept. 14, the new polymer note features on its reverse a portrait of the acclaimed novelist alongside a quote from one of her iconic novels, Pride and Prejudice: “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!” Apart from Queen Elizabeth II, whose portrait is on all U.K. currency (and most Canadian currency, to boot), Austen is only the third woman to be featured on a modern British banknote. The two previous examples were Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, and social reformer Elizabeth Fry.

“Today is an exciting day,” said Victoria Cleland, the Bank of England’s chief cashier, on Sept. 14. “It is wonderful to see the inspirational author Jane Austen celebrated on the new £10, and even more poignant being launched during the 200th anniversary of her death. I am grateful to the cash industry for their support in bringing the cleaner, safer, stronger notes to the public.”


More than one billion polymer £10 notes were printed and will now enter general circulation. The new notes join the Winston Churchill £5 note in the first series of polymer Bank of England banknotes. A new £20 note featuring J. M. W. Turner will follow in 2020.

“The new £10 will be printed on polymer, making it safer, stronger and cleaner,” said bank Governor Mark Carney. “The note will also include a new tactile feature on the £10 to help the visually impaired, ensuring the nation’s money is as inclusive as possible.”

Victoria Cleland, the bank’s chief cashier, stands with a sheet of newly printed £10 notes.

The series of raised dots in the top-left corner helps blind and partially sighted users to identify the denomination of the note. This tactile feature is in addition to the elements already incorporated in Bank of England banknotes for vision impaired users: the tiered sizing, bold numerals, raised print and differing colour palettes. It’s the first U.K. banknote with a tactile feature to support blind and partially sighted users.


The new £10 note also contains security features that make it “very difficult” to counterfeit, according to the bank, which added it expects the notes to last “at least 2.5 times longer than the current paper £10 notes – around five years – and stay in better condition during day-to-day use.”

Like all U.K. currency, the note’s obverse features a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II.

“Our banknotes serve as repositories of the country’s collective memory, promoting awareness of the United Kingdom’s glorious history and highlighting the contributions of its greatest citizens,” said Carney. “The new £10 note celebrates Jane Austen’s work. Austen’s novels have a universal appeal and speak as powerfully today as they did when they were first published.”

Paper £10 notes featuring Charles Darwin will be gradually withdrawn from circulation as they are banked by retailers and businesses. The outgoing paper £10 notes will be accepted as legal tender until they’re withdrawn next spring. The exact withdrawal date will be announced at least three months in advance.

The first British £10 was issued in 1759 and printed only on one side and in black and white. The first £10 note to feature a portrait of the monarch came in 1964, and Florence Nightingale was the first character to be portrayed on the back of a £10 note in 1975. There are currently 3.7 billion Bank of England banknotes in circulation, of which 801 million are £10 notes.

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